Local News

Cary 'Santa' could face more charges

Posted January 12, 2012

— A 70-year-old Cary man who refers to himself as "Santa John" could face more charges after his arrest Wednesday on several child sex charges.

John Thomas Peters, of 113 Crestpoint Court, is accused of having inappropriate conversations with a 15-year-old girl on the Internet.

He is charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, solicitation of a child by computer or certain other electronic devices to commit an unlawful sex act and dissemination of obscene material to a minor under the age of 16 years.

Capt. Ann Stephens, of the Apex Police Department, said Thursday that detectives are still investigating Peters and looking closer at computers he used.

Peters was initially placed in the Wake County jail under a $1 million bond, but during a first court appearance Thursday, District Judge Robert Rader lowered it to $600,000. Should he make bail, he was ordered not to have contact with any children and not to use social media.

The 15-year-old's mother claims Peters, who is known for portraying Santa Claus at malls and holiday events, started talking with her daughter on Dec. 29, sent her pornographic pictures and said he wanted to have sex with her.

The mother contacted authorities and worked with police to lure him to a meeting at an Apex McDonald's, where undercover officers arrested him.

On a Facebook page linked to the name and email address that the girl's mother said Peters was using indicates that the user says he is an amateur photographer looking for models to photograph.

John Thomas Peters 'Santa John' could face more charges

He has 158 friends – all are girls and young women with the exception of one man. The page contains provocative pictures of several girls and young women.

Neighbors in Peters' Cary neighborhood described him as a jolly, friendly and kind retiree of IBM and said they wouldn't suspect him of ever being charged in a crime.

In a profile that was on the website Wednesday of Triangle Santa Buddies, Peters referred to himself as "Santa John," saying he often drives around in a red convertible sports car with the tag "SantaCar."

According to the profile, which has since been removed, he said he also worked at stores, greeting and interacting with children.

WRAL News has learned that Peters played Santa for several years at the Christmas party for Hospice of Wake County.

At least one parent of children who interacted with Peters said she is now concerned.

A Raleigh woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said her 5-year-old daughter met him as Santa in December.

"I just got sick," she said of when she recognized Peters from his mug shot. "If it is valid, I have to wonder how long it has gone on."


This story is closed for comments.

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  • artquinn Jan 13, 2012

    Similar to question asked below by april hunter on 1/12/12,I am also curious to find out if this guy is the same Santa who was "Santa" at the Cary Towne Center Mall this past XMAS.

    We took our one-year old grandaughter there on Friday, Dec 9th and this guy looks like the same guy who was that Santa.

    Also, I read the comments on the article on this story about the lack of background checks for "Santa's", PLEASE managers at our local Triangle Malls, tell me you do thorough background checks on people hired to be Santa at XMAS !!!

    Is this the same "Santa" that worked at Cary Towne Center? If so he had 2 girls that were about 13 sitting on his lap for way too long and rubbing there arms. I don't understand why two 13 yr.olds were sitting on his lap but anyway they should throw away the key. I will not be taking ny children to anywhere and let them sit on Santa's lap again.
    January 12, 2012 3:04 p.m

  • Bcause Jan 13, 2012

    This "Santa" completely pursued the 15 year old using a legitimate modeling website as his "in" the 15 year old let her mother know from the beginning and is not allowed to go to chat rooms, certain sites etc. Her CPU use is monitored. The mother nor daughter did not try and get him to meet the 15 year old. It was quite the opposite. He asked her to meet him and initiated everything.

  • donnaferguson21 Jan 13, 2012

    v3.0 the quote says nothing about the mother/grandmother freaking out and it was not stated that the 5 yr old was touched in any inappropriate manner. This man was around her child at corporate event that he regularly attended throughout the years. He ASKED the parent/grandparent to take a photo using his RED I-PAD. The same IPAD that had pics of hundreds of kids on it.....red flag??? maybe....over reaction...I don't think so

  • Shelley Cooper Jan 13, 2012

    sound like he needed to contract a ho ho ho

  • dwntwnboy Jan 13, 2012

    Sooo, is it possible for "Santa" to wind up on the Naughty list? LOL

  • Rico Jan 13, 2012

    Need to find out where he worked before...hopefully not at a school or something...

  • barby Jan 13, 2012

    What a brave girl to tell her mother and to participate in the sting! And good job to the mom for not overreacting and blaming her daughter!

  • same ole story Jan 13, 2012

    That Santa picture looks like the one from the Fred Smith Group in Clayton that they sent to all the home owners to join him. Went there with a friend of mine and he was telling the people not to take his picture. At the time we thought it was a very odd request from Santa. That was 3 years ago. Seems like this has been going on for some time!!!

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Jan 13, 2012

    It's a good thing this child told her mother. Good job MOM & law enforcement.

  • bubbba Jan 13, 2012

    I never trusted Santa since the last time I sat on his lap when I was a little boy and his breath was so bad I almost barfed, smelled like a Richards Wild Irish Rose whinery.